Orginally published: Adventures in the Life of a Southern Gospel Wife ~ November 2009 ~

And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed. – Numbers 22:12 (King James Version)

“Be careful what you write, for you shall possibly be called to live it.” Steven Curtis Chapman

Last spring, I heard an Evangelist Jim Velazquez of Santa Fe, New Mexico teach on the above scripture from Numbers. Of the many points Brother Velazquez made, the one that was circled and starred in my notes was: “GOD DOES NOT CURSE US. SATAN TEMPTS US OUT OF OUR BLESSING AND WE CURSE OURSELVES.”

That’s pretty easy for a Christian to believe, right?

Well, sure it is. We get fed the word GRACE since before we even know what it is.. you know: it’s amazing, it has a sweet sound and all. Even so, sometimes it’s the part of this whole believe-receive-go to Heaven deal that’s the hardest to believe. It’s the easiest promise to slip away. Grace, after all, is more than saving us from eternal damnation. Grace means God actually likes us, loves us, favors us, wants good and happy things for us.

I had my own lesson in the meaning of grace when God blessed me with my babies. (If you’ve read anything I’ve written before, you may have noticed this gets mentioned nearly every time!) I thought I couldn’t get pregnant because God was punishing me for stupid, hurtful things I had done. It took the not-so-gentle admonishment of a dear friend and mighty woman of God to say tell me how misguided I was – and it took five positive pregnancy tests to make me finally believe it.

Ever since then, I can honestly say I have believed in the grace. But this year.. wow.. 2009. It’s been a fairly great year for my family. A lot of doors have opened for us, even amidst some disappointments. But for other people, mostly people in the outer edges of our ‘circle,’ people we can’t quite touch or comfort directly, this has been the worst year ever. There have been terrible losses suffered.

The latest happened again just a week ago. Some of the most kind hearted, fun loving, full-of-the-joy-of-the-Lord people I have ever met suffered a nightmare. And for a few hours, maybe even longer, I doubted the grace. I doubted enough to get mad at God, at my Savior. I asked Him why He let things so awful happen to good people, people who serve Him, people who sacrifice for Him.

And then once I asked that question, the thought in my mind became: I wouldn’t want this to happen o anybody, whether he was serving God or not.

So the question came back on me, and the answer is the one we usually get when we question God’s ways. They are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8). He makes no promises that our lives will be easy (John 16:33). And then there is the one that sends me for a tailspin: Psalm 84:11 says no good thing will [God] uphold from they walk uprightly.

Because of this, I suppose it’s no surprise that our human minds turn to devastation and doubt when one who is walking uprightly in every way we can see is caused to suffer what we cannot fathom.

I think of this often as my husband ministers. He sings one song in particular, about the trials of Job, which, in light of the words from Steven Curtis Chapman above, make me tremble a bit. Job.. he lost everything! – all of his children, his health, his financial security, his lifestyle, the encouragement of his friends, and the support of his wife. Any one of those losses would send me reeling. And yet, Job remained, in the eyes of God, the most faithful man in the world. If I take what Mr. Chapman says to heart, and Mr. Burton keeps singing songs about amazing saints preserving in the wake of horrible grief.. what does that mean for us?

I know. This is November. I should shut up, shout a “Hallelujah,” and pass the gizzard stuffing and gravy. But life just isn’t like that. Being a Christian isn’t all happy all the time.  Sometimes the joy of the Lord seems as elusive as the slippery apples our kids go bobbing for throughout this harvest season. But His grace doesn’t have to be. His love is as sufficient as a pile of mashed potatoes and as filling as a green bean casserole and as exciting as a day when eating three kinds of pie is perfectly acceptable.

We have to wash our hands and fill our plates with His goodness.. and hold tight to the promise that it will take us through times that are quite the opposite of good.